Summer Breeze

Sweaty summers eliminated with an air conditioned porch. Thank God for technology!

By Patti Parish-Kaminski, Publisher

It is mid-June, and this summer thing has gotten real. And frankly, I’ve taken this going pro thing very seriously. Being a Professional Porch Sitter is a serious business, and it’s not for the faint at heart, so I may or may not have had Mr. Kaminski install an air conditioner on my porch. Let’s go with may. In my defense, I am a middle-aged woman living in southeast Texas where heat, humidity and mosquitos reign supreme a minimum of five months out of the year, resulting in endless bad hair days, glistening upper lips and thighs that are constantly stuck together. A girl can only deal with so much.

Growing up I recall many summers without air conditioning at all. Mawmaw and Pawpaw never had AC at their house in northern Louisiana. There were a couple of old box fans, but Mawmaw didn’t particularly like turning those on due to the unnecessary spike such as that would cause in her electricity bill. If the electricity bill surged past that $20 mark, it was a pure tragedy. So, the fans were mostly for show because if company showed up, the fans still weren’t put to use. Company was escorted to the porch to sit a spell and visit and provided with a glass of sweet tea. They never stayed long. Now that I think about it, that was probably part of Mawmaw’s plan.

Getting ready for church on Sunday mornings was a feat in the summer as Mawmaw would always don a dress, and that particular garment required a girdle and stockings. Now if you are envisioning some dainty, pretty little pink lingerie type thing, just stop right there. Mawmaw was full grown. Her dress size always boasted a 2 in front of it and typically ended in at least a 6. Her girdle was composed of space-age inch thick spandex complete with military-grade stocking clasps that could put an eye out if let loose. Wrestling into this accoutrement was a battle royale that required copious amounts of baby powder to combat the sweat of the effort and promote gliding over the hills and valleys – so much so that the entire bathroom would become enveloped in a dim haze. The grunting, groaning, twisting, bending, cajoling, stuffing and powdering typically lasted a solid ten minutes, and that was just step one. With the undergarments solidly in place, Mawmaw had to take minute, sit on the tiny bathroom stool that I was always stunned held her, catch her breath in the powdered air and ready herself for phase two – all in 90-plus degree heat.

Phase two went rather quickly. Powdered face to eliminate the glisten, red lipstick – always red – comb the sweaty hair in place and spray liberally with Aquanet, then get that dress on as quickly as possible and get out. Shoes and a purse were grabbed on the way out to catch a nominal breeze on the porch.

Once in the car, the air conditioning was turned on full blast, and we could all breathe for the eight-minute ride to the church. Unfortunately, our cool respite was short-lived, because the church did not feature the modern convenience of air conditioning.

After an hour of literally hellfire and brimstone accompanied by rapid fanning – Mawmaw was Southern Baptist – we would stand in the long line to shake the preacher’s hand, remark on his wonderful sermon and get back to the much-needed arctic blast at high noon. By the time the sticky got blown out of our clothes, we were back home peeling off our Sunday best eating dinner in 100 degrees. Point of reference: dinner is lunch in the South and supper is dinner.

Thing is I never remember being hot in the summer at Mawmaw’s house. The windows and doors were always open, my cousins were always around, we always played outside until dark and there was always plenty of amazing homemade food. We all washed dishes because we were the dishwasher. We all had to agree what to watch at night because there was one television with four channels. There were no arguments over the temperature because there was no AC. There was no issue over who slept where because there was one big room with beds that we all piled in. There was no discussion over what we wanted for dinner because we ate what Mawmaw cooked. And we never argued over where we were going because we only went to my cousin’s baseball games, the grocery store or to church. That’s what I remember about the summers of my childhood – not the temperature.

See y’all next week – on my air-conditioned porch!


Patti Parish-Kaminski

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